Ricardo Villalobos mixed the album and, whether intentionally or not, it's his influence that looms largest. Gone are the sonorous clangs of Ripatti's homemade percussion and the rich, reverbed spaces that tied the trio to dub. Instead, we get dry, ultra-precise minimalism. The opening track is a ten-minute techno trudge, its clockwork precision teased and tested by Allen's dextrous snare work. There are some chords in there, bright and dissonant, but like most of the album's harmonic content they're mixed so low as to be almost inaudible.
The focus is placed squarely on rhythm. On track six, a few rubbery synth loops keep time while Allen turns rhythmic somersaults over the top. Track seven's clavinet-like lead feels like a nod to funk, but it's funk boiled down to a fine powder, innocuous-seeming but clinically strong. Both tracks are hypnotic, but elsewhere restraint all too easily slides into blandness. On track three, which pairs Allen off with gentle chord-stabs, the momentum slowly dribbles away until we're left with a clotted mess. There and elsewhere, it's not clear exactly where Von Oswald and co are headed. In music this stripped-back, such aimlessness can be fatal.
There's the occasional hint of another, more vivid album: in the sour chords at the opening of track eight, for instance, or the dubby fourth track, in which Allen's drumming is sent pinging through a maze of delay FX. The latter is a rare attempt to bring drums and electronics closer together. Elsewhere they often seem all too separate, like combatants squaring off in a strange, airless room.